Speaking of Sex (2001) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna

Scoop's notes

Director John McNaughton has usually been a good, dependable source of entertainment. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer and Normal Life are considered offbeat treasures. Wild Things is one of the great sleazy movies. Mad Dog and Glory is a lot of fun. The latter two feature the great comic Bill Murray, so one would hold out hopes that a third collaboration between Murray and McNaughton would offer more laughs, more entertainment, and more sleaze.

One would be wrong.

Except for the sleaze. There is plenty of that. I suppose half of the movie involves verbal descriptions of sex and various discussions about the poor performance of Jay Mohr's penis (aka Mr. Happy) and the magnificent performance of James Spader's penis (aka Mr. Majestic).

The story:

A couple is having sexual problems. They get involved with two therapists. One of the therapists has elevator sex with the wife. The two therapists have a sexual history with each other, and some unsettled scores lead to a massive legal battle centering around the unethical relationship between the therapist and the wife, with the other therapist pulling the strings. High-powered lawyers get involved on both sides, and the lawyer become sexually involved with one another as well. Somehow, these people have to figure out how to settle the lawsuit and break off into three happy couples.

I'm not sure if the script was that bad to begin with, but the movie was completely screwed up by performers who just weren't any good in their parts. Melora Walters overplayed the wife with a cartoonish Betty Boop voice. Jay Mohr brought a complete lack of acting skills to the husband part. James Spader was an over-the-top nebbish, and was totally unbelievable as the male therapist. Bill Murray and Catherine O'Hara did fairly well in small parts as the lawyers, but even Murray, although the best performer in the film, brought none of his usual comic inventiveness to this role. I guess even a comic genius needs some lines to work with.

This is just an unfunny comedy, with poor performances centered around generally uninvolving situations and characters.


DVD info from Amazon

  • no features

  • widescreen anamorphic - weak transfer - lots of motion blur, faded colors



  • Jay Mohr - buns
  • James Spader - buns
  • Melora Walters - buns and side-rear breasts
  • Lara Flynn Boyle - breasts, but with hands tweaking her nipples.

Tuna's notes

Speaking of Sex is a Canadian ensemble comedy. As the film opens, a girl and her husband are having sex in a motel room when her therapist arrives acting jealously, and then their marriage counselor shows up with a gun intent on shooting at least the therapist and maybe more. The rest of the film is a flashback as to how they got to that state.

Melora Walters and her husband were having problems, mainly due to the fact that his Mr Happy wouldn't rise to the occasion, and he "screwed that cocktail waitress." They decide to see marriage counselor Lara Flynn Boyle. Boyle refers Walters to James Spader for a little one-on-one, but it is obvious that Boyle is more interested in the newly-separated Spader than in her patient. Spader ends up showing Walters that his "Mr. Majestic" is in fine working order, and his tongue isn't bad either. All of this in an elevator! Technically, he had never accepted her as a patient. Boyle becomes furious, and gets Walters to sue Spader with the help of Catherine O'Hara. Bill Murray defends him.

The plot is not inherently funny. In fact, the same story told as a courtroom drama or a soap would be humorless. However, this cast saved the project, at least for me. O'Hara was brilliant, and, no surprise, so was Bill Murray. Melora Walters was wonderful as well, and this marks the first time I haven't wanted to bitch-slap James Spader. Maybe he has finally grown up.

This is not the first time we will have disagreed on a James McNaughton film. He liked Wild Things, and I didn't. While Scoop found the cast inept in this effort, I loved the performances. This was clearly broad farce, and the cast played it in that spirit. I am still chuckling over Bill Murray hiding his erection with his brief case as he leaves the deposition room after Melora Walter's testimony. So there you have it, a split decision.

The Critics Vote ...

  • No major reviews online.

The People Vote ...

  • No theatrical release.
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, Scoop says, "This is a C- at most, perhaps a D. It is a very weak and poorly-performed comedy. My inclination was to call it a D, but some IMDb comments were quite enthusiastic, so perhaps some comedy lovers will find this funny. Tuna did in fact find it funny and calls it a C. If you think you might like it, it works out great for you because you can pick it up for less than four bucks."

Return to the Movie House home page